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Millman On Facing Federer: 'If Lightning Strikes Twice, I Wouldn't Say No'

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2020

Millman On Facing Federer: ‘If Lightning Strikes Twice, I Wouldn’t Say No’

Aussie reflects on trying for second Federer upset at a Grand Slam

Aussie John Millman shocked the world at the 2018 US Open when he ousted five-time champion Roger Federer 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(7), 7-6(3) to reach the quarter-finals. On Friday, Millman will get another chance to pull a major upset against the Swiss legend at a Grand Slam, when he faces Federer in the third round of the Australian Open.

“I do know that that [US Open match] doesn’t really count for anything now. It’s probably the toughest test in tennis to [play] Roger Federer. I think a lot of people think he’s one of, if not the, greatest ever to play the game,” Millman said. “I know between now and then I’m going to have to do everything right in terms of my preparation, going to have to improve upon my performances, no doubt. He’s looked in really good form. But at least I know a little bit what to expect.” 

Millman is trying to reach the Round of 16 in Melbourne for the first time in his sixth appearance.

“The good news is I’ll go out there and you start out at 0-0. What you can expect from me, my coaching team, friends, family, what they can all expect from me is that I’ll go out there and give it a crack,” Millman said. “Regardless of the score at the end of the day, I’ll go out there and leave it all out there. If lightning strikes twice, I wouldn’t say no to it. It’s what you want to do. You don’t play sport to not want these moments. Home Slam against someone like Roger, it’s pretty cool.”

Millman spoke to last year about what it was like to defeat Federer at the US Open:

Federer had missed the quarter-finals in Flushing Meadows just once in his previous 13 appearances. But when the Swiss superstar launched a forehand well long on match point, Millman calmly removed his cap and walked to the net to shake hands as the victor.

“I think one of the most important things about your tennis career and what I want to take away from it when I’m finished is a couple of little pictures that you store away in the memory bank,” Millman told “I still store away that match point when I won that one and it’s something I’ll hopefully take with me long after tennis.” 

Before the 2018 US Open, Millman hit with former World No. 1 Andy Murray inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. After the pair tried launching 20 to 30 balls towards the scoreboard, the Aussie didn’t necessarily expect to play on the court again during the fortnight. But after three victories, there he was walking onto a court with the capacity for more than 23,000 fans to sit layered above him, watching him upset a worldwide fan favourite.

“You’re just trying to tell yourself when you’re walking onto that court in that warm-up to try to get the feet going and try to just familiarise yourself with your surroundings as quickly as possible because it’s different,” Millman said. “It’s a massive stadium and it’s one of those places you watched as a kid.”

Then World No. 55, Millman had never previously beaten an opponent inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings (0-10). But Federer did not have it easy in their first ATP Head2Head meeting three years prior in Brisbane, needing three sets and more than two hours to triumph. So Millman wasn’t totally uncomfortable in the moment.

“I’m lucky probably that I’d faced him before and I faced him in Brisbane where there was a fair bit of pressure on me because you’re playing at home and the last thing you want to do is get whipped in front of your home crowd and home support,” Millman said. “So I felt as if I’d played him under a bit of pressure before and that definitely helped going into that match.”

It’s easy to forget that Federer was in control against the Aussie, making Millman feel like a “deer in headlights” at the beginning of the match. The Swiss, who admittedly struggled with the humidity, led by a set and served for the second set at 5-4 with two set points, but couldn’t convert. Millman bided his time, maintained a steady level, and never dropped his chin, hanging in there until he was able to find an opening and barge through it.

“Against some pretty good players I’d put myself in a position on pretty decent stages,” Millman said. “But the hardest thing is actually running through that finish line… when I finished there was probably a bit of relief and just a little bit of satisfaction and at the same time I acknowledge the fact that I got Roger on not his best day and that was my opportunity and I took it.”

Once Federer’s final forehand flew long, a whirlwind of a journey began for Millman. First, he endeared himself to the fans who stayed up late that evening by telling them he planned to wake up in mere hours for a fantasy football draft with friends.

“Literally the next day was the last time we could do it because Thursday Night Football was right around the corner. My mind was also on the draft, and you need to have those little things in tennis, too. Especially as an Australian, because we have to be away for a long, long time. And you need those little escapes,” Millman said.

The following day, Millman was a man in demand, completing a media tour. A friend had flown in after he defeated Mikhail Kukushkin in the third round, and a couple more booked tickets after he defeated Federer to watch their buddy take on Novak Djokovic. Millman earned a massive triumph, but he wasn’t ready for his dream run to be over.

“Obviously when you’re a kid, you don’t imagine just winning the one-off match,” Millman said. “You imagine winning the whole thing.”

Millman lost in the next round against the eventual champion, Djokovic. But for a player who had never previously made the fourth round of a Grand Slam, it was an unforgettable tournament. It was made even more special because of how much New York has meant to Millman. In 2010, he visited the city for the first time when his parents got him an early birthday present, booking him accommodations in Manhattan after losing at an ATP Challenger Tour event in Tallahassee in 2010.

Millman watched as soon-to-be drafted athletes entered Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft, and he also went to see a show. The Aussie loved the city. But little did he know that nearly a decade later he would captivate the city’s attention himself.

“That’s tennis, and that’s what’s beautiful about tennis. You start off regardless of who you play, it’s 0-0. It’s a game for the next two, three, four hours. It’s you versus the other person and anything can happen,” Millman said. “Very rarely do you have those games where everything goes right and you feel amazing. It doesn’t happen, so you’ve got to be there to capitalise when they’re not having one of those special days.”

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All top 10 women's seeds reach third round

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2020
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

All of the top 10 women’s singles seeds have reached the Australian Open third round for the first time since 2007.

Fifth seed Elina Svitolina completed the set when she beat American Lauren Davis 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in a match that finished at 00:45 local time.

The Ukrainian, searching for her first Grand Slam title, will play Spanish two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza next.

Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic were among the winners on day four.

Eighth seed Serena Williams won the title in 2007 when she was unseeded.

She will play Wang Qiang in the third round on Friday, while defending champion Naomi Osaka takes on Coco Gauff in a rematch of their emotional US Open meeting in September.

Play was delayed on the outside courts on Thursday because of the dust and mud that came down during a rainstorm in Melbourne on Wednesday night.

  • Kyrgios mimics rival Nadal in four-set victory
  • Dart & Watson out as British singles interest ends
  • Nadal powers through, Thiem wins five-set thriller
  • Clijsters comeback a complete surprise – Bertens column

On Margaret Court Arena, Swiss Belinda Bencic overcame Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in a fluctuating match to the reach the third round.

The sixth seed, 22, lost four games in a row in both sets but still managed to win 7-5 7-5 against the 2017 French Open champion.

Muguruza progressed with a 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory over Australian Ajla Tomljanovic on Rod Laver Arena.

Czech second seed Karolina Pliskova had a straightforward 6-3 6-3 win over Germany’s Laura Siegemund and will play Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or American Taylor Townsend in the last 32.

American Catherine Bellis, ranked 600 in the world and playing at her first Grand Slam in two years after four surgeries, knocked out Czech 20th seed Karolina Muchova 6-4 6-4.

Bellis, who was was told she may have to quit tennis after struggling with wrist and elbow injuries, will next face Belgian 16th seed Elise Mertens who beat Britain’s Heather Watson 6-3 6-0.

Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion in Melbourne, saw off Australian wildcard Priscilla Hon 6-3 6-2, while Carla Suarez Navarro, who will retire at the end of the season, lost 6-3 7-5 to Poland’s Iga Swiatek.

Dutch ninth seed Kiki Bertens overcame Australia’s Arina Rodionova 6-3 7-5 and 2019 semi-finalist Danielle Collins was beaten 6-4 2-6 7-5 by Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan.

Putintseva will face fourth seed Simona Halep after the Romanian two-time Grand Slam champion beat Britain’s Harriet Dart.


Jonathan Jurejko, BBC Sport at Melbourne Park

Melbourne is the city which coined the phrase – and inspired the Crowded House song – Four Seasons in One Day. On Wednesday it appeared to be monsoon season.

But, unusually, the rain band threw down a slurry-looking orangey/brown dust.

This murky torrential rain started as fans left Melbourne Park after Roger Federer’s win at about 10:30pm and continued to hammer down overnight.

Apparently brought down from the dusty north, it was deposited over Melbourne and left clothes, cars and tennis courts covered in brown dirt.

Most strikingly it turned the city’s arterial Yarra river – called the ‘upside down’ river because of its high turbidity – looking even slurrier than usual.

For the Australian Open, it meant a clean-up operation powered by jet-streamed hoses and squeezy mops on the courts – although it begged the question why covers are not used in these situations.

As one tennis fan quipped on Twitter, the clay season came early.

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Kyrgios mimics Nadal in four-set win

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2020
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Nick Kyrgios reached the Australian Open third round by beating Gilles Simon, with both players mimicking Rafael Nadal’s service routine.

Both he and Frenchman Simon copied the Spaniard’s routine after they were given time violations, and Kyrgios has previously criticised Nadal for the time he takes between points

The two could meet in the fourth round.

“There weren’t any extracurricular activities I was doing before my serve to waste time,” Kyrgios said.

The Australian has previously described Nadal as “super salty”.

Asked whose impression was better, Kyrgios replied: “I don’t wear underwear, so probably Gilles’.”

When asked about the incident, Nadal said: “Honestly, I don’t care at all. If was funny, good. That’s it.”

Nadal was irritated when Kyrgios served underarm in their meeting in Acapulco last year and has previously said the 24-year-old “lacks respect”.

World number one Nadal, who beat Argentina’s Federico Delbonis in straight sets on Thursday, has a 4-3 head-to-head lead over Kyrgios, but the Australian leads 2-1 on hard courts.

Kyrgios, the 23rd seed, said he was not thinking about the rest of the tournament or who he could meet in future rounds.

  • Thiem & Khachanov come through five-set battles
  • Dart & Watson out as British singles interests end
  • Play delayed on outside courts by dust and mud

‘I could have gone to a very dark place’

The Australian appeared on course for a swift victory, breaking his 61st-ranked opponent at the start of each set and leading 4-2 in the third.

However, Simon hit back to win four games in a row before Kyrgios, lifted by the packed crowd, found the decisive break late in the fourth set.

“I could have gone to a very dark place in the fourth set but I put it away,” Kyrgios said.

“I definitely lost my way a little bit. It would have been very interesting if it went to a fifth set.”

Kyrgios also apologised to his player box, saying it was “not acceptable” for him to take out his third-set frustrations on them.

“I apologised as soon as I went back into the locker room. They don’t deserve that,” he said.

“They do a lot of things for me on and off the court.”

Kyrgios hit 28 aces against Simon and will donate A$200 for each one to the bushfire appeal.

Legendary former player John McEnroe has also said he will contribute A$1,000 to the appeal for each set Kyrgios wins in the tournament.

Kyrgios will face Russian 16th seed Karen Khachanov next.

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Sealed With A Kiss, Nadal's 'Scary Moment'

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2020

Sealed With A Kiss, Nadal’s ‘Scary Moment’

Spanish superstar comforts ball girl

For one poor ball girl on Thursday night, the sight of Rafael Nadal’s fearsome forehand will be something she won’t forget in a hurry.

At 4-1 up in the third set, Nadal returned a forehand down the line, but wide, with Federico Delbonis serving at 15/40.

Hearing a line judge call ‘Out’ on the first serve, a ball girl stepped out from beside the umpires chair, only to be hit straight on the side of her head by Nadal’s wayward return.

Ouch, that’s gotta hurt!

Nadal immediately rushed to check if she was okay, kissed her on the cheek, and after his 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1 victory for a place in the Australian Open third round, handed the ball girl a headband by way of apology.

“For her, it was probably not a good moment,” said Nadal. “The ball was quick and straight onto her head. She is a super-brave girl.”

When asked by on-court interviewer Samuel Groth about the kiss, the former Australian pro told Nadal, “Don’t worry about your wife for a second…”

Nadal smiled, saying, “Probably after 15 years she (my wife) doesn’t care much.

“It was one of my most scary moments that I had on the tennis court, as the ball went straight onto her head. I had a moment at Wimbledon a long time ago.”

Nadal was presented with the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the third time (also 2010 and 2018) during the ATP Cup in Perth two weeks ago.

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Stan Survives Seppi In Five Sets

  • Posted: Jan 23, 2020

Stan Survives Seppi In Five Sets

Swiss next meets American John Isner

Stan Wawrinka turned a near calamity into a fighting five-set win over Andreas Seppi on Friday to return to the Australian Open third round for the first time in three years.

Wawrinka littered up the stats sheet with 34 unforced errors in the first two sets (65 for the match) but came up clutch at two critical junctures of the match. When Seppi served for a two-sets lead at 5-4 in the second set, Wawrinka broke to get back into the match. And from being down a break at 3-4 in the fifth, the former World No. 3 claimed back-to-back breaks to close out the match 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 in three hours, 38 minutes.

“It was a tough five-setter that could have gone either way,” he said on court after the match. “I kept fighting and I’m super happy to get through.”

The 2014 champion at Melbourne Park next meets John Isner, who has fired 78 aces in his first two matches. Wawrinka trails the 6’ 10” American 1-3 in their ATP Head2Head.

The Swiss, who also needed four sets to top Damir Dzumhur in the first round, claimed his fifth consecutive win over Seppi, remaining perfect in nine hard-court meetings against the 35-year-old, who has reached the Australian Open four times during his career.

Wawrinka has rallied back to No. 15 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, but is still searching for his first title since winning on home soil in Geneva midway through the 2017 season.

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